Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NY Times Highlights Charities Political Contributions

The NY Times featured a recent article about political contributions given by nonprofits. Charities are barred by federal law from making contributions to political campaigns. The reporters, Danny Hakim and Jeremy W. Peters, reviewed campaign-finance and federal tax records and found at least 81 tax-exempt charities that gave contributions to legislative candidates since 2005. The donations were by a wide-range of organizations, including museums, churches, hospitals, Little Leagues and soccer clubs. The reporters believe these results highlight the lack of enforcement regarding this law. They also offer that the contributions often went to lawmakers who helped the charities secure state money. Read more here.

Many nonprofits, especially volunteer-driven, have minimal understanding of nonprofit compliance and accountability, so a Little League giving to their local politician probably isn't a surprise. However, this article illustrates that organizations with staff don't clearly understand this issue and need more information. It would even seem politicians are unaware of this federal law. How can nonprofits avoid this pitfall in the future? Share your thoughts on this issue.

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